Background: Patients with advanced head and neck cancer have identified pain, fatigue, and difficulties swallowing, breathing, and communicating as high-priority disease-related symptoms. The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Head and Neck Symptom Index-10 (FHNSI-10) assesses these symptoms. We sought to validate the FHNSI-10, another brief symptom index (FHNSI-7), and individual symptom endpoints representing these high-rated priority disease symptoms among patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Methods: Patients (N = 239) were enrolled in a phase III randomized clinical trial (E1302) and completed the FHNSI-10 at multiple time points. We assessed the internal consistencies and test–retest reliabilities of the FHNSI-10 and FHNSI-7 scores, and the known-groups validity, predictive criterion validity, and responsiveness-to-change of the symptom indexes and individual symptom endpoint scores. Results: The FHNSI-10 and FHNSI-7 indexes showed satisfactory internal consistencies (Cronbach's alpha coefficient range 0.60-0.75) and acceptable test–retest reliabilities (intraclass correlation coefficients = 0.75 and 0.74, respectively). The FHNSI-10, FHNSI-7, and the pain, fatigue, swallowing, and breathing symptom scores showed evidence of known-groups validity by performance status at baseline. The FHNSI-10, FHNSI-7, and the pain, fatigue, and breathing symptom scores at baseline showed evidence of predictive criterion validity for overall survival, but not time-to-progression (TTP). Changes in the symptom indexes and individual symptom scores were not associated with changes in performance status over 4 weeks, though most patients had stable performance status. Conclusions: There is initial evidence of validity for the FHNSI-10 and FHNSI-7 indexes and selected individual symptom endpoints as brief disease-related symptom assessments for patients with recurrent or metastatic SCCHN.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cancer Research